When Adonis Calls, You Better Answer

A few weeks ago I was perusing Twitter, as you do, when I noticed a post by Clint Borzoni, our friend that composed Copper Queen. Clint posted that he would be in Asheville NC to premiere his new opera, When Adonis Calls, starting May 11. I sat straight up and exclaimed to myself, that is the week of my work conference, unfortunately, I would be leaving May 10….. Immediately I sent Clint and John De Los Santos, the librettist and Director of the show, a message and asked them if we might get together for dinner or an adult beverage while I was in town since I would be missing the premiere by one day. Lo and behold, they extended an invitation to attend the dress rehearsal on Wednesday night. I even got permission to abscond from a work dinner/ social function.

I was so excited, after seeing the workshop of Copper Queen, to hear that they had a new piece in the works, and I was not disappointed by the results of their collaboration. The performances are being staged in the historic Masonic Temple in Downtown Asheville, NC. It is a small venue but this work needs a small space to truly experience the full scope of emotions contained in the poetry and music.

Keith, John, and Clint

John took the poetry of Asheville native, Gavin Geoffrey Dillard and distilled it down to elicit the rawness that can be felt when approaching a, shall we say, May-December relationship. Clint wrote the piece for string quartet and percussion and two male voices, while John added two male dancers representing the two singers acting out the words sung by their two characters. The music is modern in style but with a strong affinity for classical forms and some whimsy thrown in. The percussion added that little “something” that the words and poetry required for a specific emphasis. There were even moments that I found myself wanting to tap my toe, but I was a little self conscious with Clint sitting right next to me. It was sometimes difficult to hear the music, not because the orchestra wasn’t playing loud enough but because there were two wonderful men singing and two good looking men dancing the words and emotions that I got lost in the moment, but I do believe I heard a few themes that were recurring in the music, very leitmotif-esque. All three; music, words, and dance blended so well that you do get lost in the emotions while watching the performance.

John has done an amazing job with the staging and oh my, the dancing in this piece is very steamy with several scenes when the dancers are in their underwear only. With that said, if you haven’t figured it out by now, this piece is about two men who are falling in love. But you shouldn’t call this a gay opera any more than you would call La Boheme a straight opera. To quote Gavin Dillard, “It’s more of a philosophical treatise and is pretty haughty in that respect,” says Dillard. “The two are arguing about life, creation, the relevance of art and aging. There’s this line in one of my poems about a fading, sagging ass. Here, that becomes physical — we’re living in a world that’s transitory, and we can’t stop that.”

Gavin Dillard and Keith

This is not a production you want to take your 85 year old grandmother to unless she is very progressive. It is very sensual yet poignant. I would have said full of pathos (and my 10th grade English teacher would have been proud of me for using that word), but it is not pity we experience from the poetry; it is more a sorrowful joy that there is a chance for love amid the craziness of life. There were moments that resonated with me and how I felt about life, love and relationships before I met, Ben, the love of my life, 22 years ago. There were even a few moments where I got a little verklempt and almost shed a tear (or two). You will also find a healthy dose of humor, for instance there is a quote that ends the first exchange (act), “I have a hole in my life that you might fill brilliantly. As for anything resembling a marriage—we should probably do brunch first. “ (quoted from the libretto with permission).

The two singers both have remarkable voices and were able to elicit the emotion and nuance of the words they were given to sing. They both have a very strong stage presence and fill up the room with their character and voices. The two dancers were very accomplished as well and they had great chemistry together which, for this piece, is very important given the subject matter. And John’s choreography helps accentuate their physical attributes as well as adding a new kind of emotional depth not found in most traditional operas.

When Adonis calls premieres at the Historic Masonic Temple in Asheville, NC on Friday May 11 and runs through May 13. Composed by Clint Borzoni, Libretto and Directed by John De Los Santos, Conducted by Michael Ciavaglia, The Poet is Joshua Jeremiah, The Muse is Trevor Martin, Dancers – Alan Malpass and Gavin Stewart.

I can’t tell you what an emotional roller coaster I rode throughout the 90 minutes I sat there. I was mesmerized by everything I was experiencing. I suppose you might call this experiential opera and I would encourage everyone to seek out this new work and experience it for themselves. You just might discover something new and exciting.
Clint and John have another winner on their hands so, When Adonis Calls you better answer.

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3 thoughts on “When Adonis Calls, You Better Answer

  1. On point, Keith. Although I had the honor of photographing the dress rehearsal, I will be back as a member of the audience.

    1. I would love to see it again in the final form, unfortunately, I was only in town until Thursday night.

      1. So sorry I didn’t get a chance to meet you during the rehearsal. I din’t get a chance to meet Clint until the following evening. I’ll be following your blog.

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